From Adversity to Advocacy: Shannon Kadar’s story

Shannon Kadar

At 40 years old, Shannon Kadar was living her dream. She was married to her high school sweetheart, she had three happy sons and a fulfilling career.  

Then she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

It began with pain in her abdomen and pelvic area. Ultrasounds were ordered, Shannon was diagnosed with ovarian cysts, and surgery was scheduled to remove the troublesome ovary. However, it became clear during surgery that those cysts were tumours, which would require specialized care not available in Windsor.  

From there, she was referred to the gynaecological oncologists at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), who recommended another surgery to remove the remaining ovary and assess whether the cancer had spread.

Led by Dr. Michel Prefontaine, the second surgery was a success. The tumours were removed, and it was confirmed the cancer hadn't spread. But since it was still considered aggressive, high grade serious ovarian cancer, Shannon required chemotherapy.

Shannon’s treatments were coordinated through LHSC, but she chose to receive her sessions closer to home at a satellite office in Chatham, which was a great comfort to her. Nature brought her immense joy and serenity, and she says listening to the birds sing in her backyard was just as vital to her well-being as the medical treatments she was receiving.

During her treatments, Shannon learned there could be a genetic link to her cancer, so the team at LHSC recommended genetic testing. This testing revealed she and two of her sons carried a BRCA 1 genetic mutation, meaning they too were at significantly increased risk of developing cancer.  

Armed with this knowledge, Shannon and her sons became laser-focused on cancer prevention. They began to take proactive measures to not only screen for cancer and catch it in its early stages, but also to prevent it from developing in the first place.  

As men, Shannon’s sons obviously could not develop ovarian cancer, but they were at high risk for several other cancers––primarily prostate, melanoma and male breast cancer. Their diagnosis made them eligible for early screening and they now conduct regular breast exams. Shannon also learned she was 87% more likely to develop breast cancer than the average woman, so she made the decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy.  

Two years after her second surgery, Shannon experienced a recurrence requiring additional treatment. Currently in remission, Shannon is taking a PARP inhibitor medication, offering her newfound hope and extended remission.  

However, genetic testing ignited a passion for advocacy within Shannon. Her mission now is to raise awareness about preventive measures in hopes of prolonging the lives of others.

Shannon's enthusiasm for advocacy and education drives her to share her story and the importance of genetic testing with others. As she celebrates more than a year without evidence of disease, her story serves as an inspiration for others, reminding them that hope, determination and knowledge can triumph over adversity.


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